By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Icke, billed as “the planet’s most controversial and challenging thinker,” was making a rare West Coast appearance last Saturday — and giving his audience plenty to think about, one way or another. “I’m not saying that I trust everything the man says,” cautions a former military man in the lobby during a break in the all-day exposition. “He keeps bringing up things about reptilians [lizards in human guise who run the world], for example. But he’s made some astounding predictions, and they have come true.”
Like most folks here, this gent (who requested anonymity — the problem with interviewing people about their paranoia is that most of them are too paranoid to talk about it) discovered Icke through his books — I Am Me, I Am Freepredicted a manipulated oil war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
How Icke got to this position is as interesting as his views. A one-time soccer pro (goalkeeper for Coventry City and Hereford United in the English league), he was a sports pundit for the BBC in the early ’80s while becoming increasingly involved in environmental activism, eventually serving as national spokesman for Britain’s Green Party. With the publication of his autobiography, Truth Vibrations: From TV Celebrity to World Visionary, Icke became a laughingstock, the staple of standup comics across the U.K., where going from soccer player to awakened neo-hippie is like a hockey enforcer leaving the NHL to become a transsexual hairstylist.
An ongoing theme in his books since the early ’90s has been the desire of the Illuminati (“the ones with the real power, who operate in the shadows”) to control us through a cashless, microchipped society. “The absolute jewel in the crown is the microchipped population,” Icke booms. “The chips are now so small they can be inserted [secretly] in hypodermic needles during vaccination programs . . . and the real thing is not the message going from the chip to the computer, but the message coming the other way: Once we’re microchipped, we can be manipulated.”
At 52, Icke’s still a pleasant-looking chap, beer belly, silver-gray near-mullet and all. His TV experience shows: He’s a consummate speaker. Yet he retains a bloke-down-the-pub chattiness, littering his speech with “bloody” this and “mate” that, while oiling the weighty wheels of the subject matter with well-received humor. He uses no notes, stumbles over words, but rarely loses momentum. At times he’s utterly convincing, as with his literally breathless rage at our being force-fed lies by the government and media, and his sorrow at the suffering in Iraq and Afghanistan moves even the cynical.
The broad strokes of Icke’s beliefs are common sense to anyone with an inquisitive bone in their body: that the Western military-industrial complex promotes foreign wars so it can make billions destroying, then rebuilding, other countries, and that the so-called “war on terror” is the callously conceived pinnacle of this (“The reason they chose the ‘war on terrorism’ is ’cause they can never say it’s over,” Icke points out); and that the mainstream media, particularly TV news, is but a “movie” portraying events in keeping with hidden agendas. He builds an impressive case, then undermines it with wobbly timeline “evidence” suggesting that Bush and company knew about 9/11 in advance, and crudely Photoshopped images of what he claims are Iraqi babies with deformations caused by contamination from U.S.-fired depleted uranium shells: bones of ultra-logic hung with flimsy factual flesh.
Icke’s audience is a fascinating cross-section: equal parts male and female, with all age groups and a broad ethnic mix represented. Professional-looking couples sit captivated; there are teens, senior citizens and, perhaps most surprisingly, notable numbers of glamorous nip-’n’-tuck MILFs and low-rise hip chicks. There is not one cartoon “wacko” to be seen: no camo, no mirror shades, no dodgy t-shirt slogans.
Just the same, as the audience files out at 7:30 p.m., a very ordinary-looking 40-something couple (who decline to be recorded) open up at length about how giant lizards came to Earth to covertly control us and siphon off gold to feed atmosphere-controlling volcanoes back on their own planet. Outside in the eye-level setting sun, for a while everything’s blotchy and indistinct, then my eyes adjust and all seems clear again.
Paintings at 3 a.m.
At half past midnight last Thursday, a crowd is lined up around the block waiting to get into the craziest spot in town — the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — for the second annual “Tiki ’Til Dawn” party. In the open-air courtyard, I wade through a sea of people. There are girls with chunky plastic eyeglasses. There are punks and skaters and industry types in collared shirts. There are moms and pops, college students and high school students, fashionistas, frat boys, surfer boys, skinheads, cholos, hipsters, nerds, insomniacs and loners and couples on dates. There are beautiful and ugly, fat and thin, dark and pale, young and old, loud and quiet. They swirl around a central bar with a large “Tiki” sign lit up in cheerful yellow bulbs.
On one side of the courtyard, people are painting on a giant canvas, big as a wall. The party has been going since 7 p.m., and the canvas is covered with layer upon layer of words and doodles. “Stop painting me!” it reads in the upper right corner. “Polenta!” it says in the middle, followed by “Just win” and “The city is adjourned” and “Boo.” A heart in black. A penis. A severed head.